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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

The Monarchs

“The monarch butterfly population has dwindled precipitously to a handful of forested Mexican mountains” – that’s what an article in the Times states.

 The migration of the monarchs is something I learned about in college – not from a science class- but in a poetry workshop where a young man named Mark wrote a poem about the thousands of miles traversed seasonally by those orange slivered wings. He was a nice guy, and as it happened with me around most nice guys in those days, I didn’t pay him much attention, but I did love that poem. I still have it in a drawer of saved things, a ragged sheet of typing paper that weighs about the same as a butterfly.

 The diminishment of the monarchs it seems is due to multiple factors – changes in weather, loss of habitat, increase in pesticides and herbicides and decrease in the milkweed that is their sustenance. The clouds of monarchs that once covered the plains as they swept south is now only a small patch of color in the midst of soy and corn crops. There are overall less flowers, less bees, less butterflies.

 It makes me sad, and a bit afraid, one less miracle to pass on to my grandsons.  One less wonder in the world, an acu5rality that may become a story, a myth of flight that something so small, so light could travel so far. The loss of wonder, of the unheralded miracle of migration points to the loss of an unseen compass for all of us. 

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